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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776
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Does Israel Recognize Itself as a Jewish State?

Netanyahu demands that that Mahmoud Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish state, but if it wants foreign journalists to do so, perhaps it should not call Rosh HaShanah-Yom Kippur-Sukkot “autumn holidays.”

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Selichot prayers at the Kotel leading up to Yom Kippur

Selichot prayers at the Kotel leading up to Yom Kippur
Photo Credit: Oren Nahshon / FLASH90



A government press release, referring to Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot as the “autumn holiday” raises a question whether the Netanyahu administration recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, a demand it has made of the Palestinian Authority.

The Government Press Office sent a letter to “press attaches at foreign embassies” with an invitation to attend a “Spirituality and History Tour of Jerusalem” next month.

The “spirituality” part is a bit hard to understand unless it is limited to Christianity.

“We will watch the Armenians march from their theological seminary to prayers in the St. James Cathedral, in the Armenian Quarter,” the letter stated.

“We will then proceed to the Jewish Quarter where will hear about the autumn holidays, visit the Old Yishuv Court Museum and ascend to amazing view from the roof of Aish HaTorah Yeshiva,” it continued.

“We will end our tour at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where will hear about Jerusalem’s multi-faceted Christian communities while observing ceremonies of the various sects.”

There are two glaring absences. One, there is no reference to Islam, which like it or not, is part of the history of the Old City.

The other and more blatant gaffe is the mention of “the autumn holidays.”

Autumn holidays?

A case could be made by a secular Jew that Sukkot really is all about the harvest and is one of the three Festivals in which agriculture is a major part.

But Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur?

Would the GPO dare refer to refer Christmas as “the winter holiday?”

The Jewish Press asked a couple of questions from people involved in the tour, and everyone emphasized there was no slight intended and that, in fact, the holidays do fall in the autumn.

One person indeed was taken aback and said that the question would be looked into.

It would be too complicated to explain non-Jews that they are “High Holidays” – then you have to explain what is a “low” holiday.

To explain “Tishrei,” the month in which the holidays occur, requires a long span of listening attention, although Ramadan is accepted.

But Jewish? Can’t they even say the word “Jewish?”

Before the High Holidays, the GPO will send out its annual multi-page explanations of the Jewish holidays, allowing all of the foreign journalists to study the spirituality, if they want to wade through it all.

Maybe on the actual “Spirituality and History Tour of Jerusalem,” the autumn holidays will become Jewish.

One person told The Jewish Press,” Don’t make a mountain of a mole hill.”

Well, we are, because those when those little mole hills pile up on each other, they become a big, big mountain.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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